The Bridge Care Center in Ballard is a unique drop-in resource center catering to men and women who are experiencing homelessness or financial hardships. People come for clothing, toiletries and other necessities and the staff of volunteers takes it a step farther. The meaning behind the center and those who depend on their services echo the feeling.

“BCC is rooted in dignity, that’s why I’m glad I always showed respect towards homeless people because next thing you know, here I am homeless,” Steven Harper, one of the homeless people I met on a recent visit, said.

He was on his way to volunteer at a local soup kitchen but also needed to stop by the Bridge Care Center for some clothes.

His rave reviews of one particular volunteer seemed rather poetic. We learned about a retired teacher who is using her life skills to give in an unexpected way.

“Wherever people are serving Homeless people, she’ll probably be there,” Steven said.

Jody Grage is in her 80s and says she came up with an idea that allowed her to custom tailor donations.

“I made my first dress when I was 10. Which was 72 years ago so I have a lot of experience with mending.”

Grage uses her sewing skills to offer a service that few homeless would ever expect.

On Thursdays, Grage shows up with her sewing machine and repairs or alters whatever her visitors need. From clothing to backpacks and sleeping bags.

Jody says this service is important for a number of reasons.

“I’ve been working with homeless people for a long time and most of them I know.”

She also says this is an effort to help the planet.

“When I was teaching I had a banner up in my room that said ‘Good Planets are hard to find!’ and we haven’t been taking very good care of this one."

Grage wants to mend more clothing because recycling clothing can help cut down on what gets thrown away. Fashion has left a staggering pollution footprint and she believes repairing worn clothes is a way she can offer a small solution that impacts people in need.

“Sometimes it just needs a button sewn on. Sometimes its cut the pants of and hem them. Sometimes it’s a sleeping bag that has two or three holes in it.”

It’s always a custom job and something Grage says she enjoys doing.

“I think it’s important to have relationships with people because feeling alone and hopeless certainly doesn’t help.”

Grage transports her sewing machine to The Bridge Care Center in Ballard almost every Thursday from 10-1 p.m.

“It’s fun doing something no one else is doing,” she said.

BCC accepts donations and you can support their cause with your time or donations. High-demand items include new or gently-used adult clothing, socks, shoes, toiletries, backpacks, and sleeping bags. We can also use blankets, Bibles, books, games, and snack items.”

To learn more or to make a donation, visit their website.